Best introductory paragraph to a history book

I often find introductions to be the home of the very best writing and ideas in many large works. This was most definitely the case in Robert Louis Wilken’s The First Thousand Years:

“What power preserves what once was, if memory does not last?” – Czeslaw Milosz
The past doesn’t vanish at once; it dies slowly. But if remembered, the dead maintain their ground and live among us. Historical memory, like all memory, is selective, and there are many claimants to the telling of Christianity’s early history. The Christian Church has a long and crowded past, and whether by design, forgetfulness, or ignorance, its history will be remembered in different ways. Our knowledge of the past is not objective but personal and participatory. (p.1)